DeKalb County District 1 Commissioner Robert Patrick recently toured DeKalb-Peachtree Airport (PDK) with U.S. Sen. Reverend Raphael Warnock to show both the vital economic impact the regional airport has on DeKalb County as well as the vital need to invest in the airport infrastructure.
Also on the tour were DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond and Airport Director Mario Evans. Sen. Warnock also previewed his aviation workforce development legislation and this year’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill. Both bills will be important to PDK, as one of the largest employers and economic drivers not just in DeKalb’s District 1 but all across the County.
Led by Commissioner Patrick, District 1 is in the heart of the busy I-285 and I-85 Spaghetti Junction, including Tucker, Dunwoody, Doraville, and parts of Brookhaven and Chamblee. It’s also home to PDK, the 2nd largest and busiest airport in Georgia after Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, out of 103 airports in the state.
PDK is designated as a general aviation reliever for the Atlanta metropolitan area, reducing congestion of business jets at Hartsfield. Situated on 730 acres, the airport has an FAA air traffic control tower and three runways.
Commissioner Patrick says PDK plays a vital role in supporting the region, with about 2,600 jobs and an annual payroll of toping $111 million, creating an economic impact of $372 million for the local and regional economy.
PDK is home to more than 125 on-airport businesses providing extensive aviation related services. “The airport connects Georgia’s citizens and businesses to the rest of the state, our nation, and the global economy,” Commissioner Patrick says.
However, as Airport Director Mario Evans told Senator Warnock, the general administration building dates to 1934. Because of how dated it is – it was built when the airport was part of Camp Gordon, a World War I Army training base. It later became a U.S. Naval Reserve aviation base. Evans says a new administration building is on his wish list.
During a round table with aviation workers, leaders, airport personnel and Sen. Warnock, the discussion focused on the challenges facing the aviation industry and how federal support can strengthen the local aviation workforce.
Sen. Warnock, calling Georgia “the nation’s most important aviation state,” said he’s drafting a bill that would provide grants to educational institutions to help establish a sustainable workforce pipeline for the aviation industry – including pilots and mechanics – with a special focus on using these grants to welcome those underrepresented in the industry. He’s also working on the FAA reauthorization bill, which will include comprehensive aviation policy reforms and improvements.
PDK’s important role in the region stems not just from being an important business aviation hub, but also to emergency health. Angel Flight and many air ambulance operators frequently use PDK for patient transfers, further enhancing the local area’s quality of life.
PDK also has 13 flight schools located on the field and supports aerial inspections and photography, law enforcement flights, Civil Air Patrol and emergency medical evacuation.
PDK averages nearly 460 takeoffs and landings per day. More than 20 major employers in the area base their corporate flight departments at PDK, including Waffle House, Southern Company, Quikrete, Rollins Corporation, and AvGroup. Four fixed base operators or FBOs are located at PDK, one which caters to helicopters, used by all the local news media choppers. FBO services include fueling, major aircraft maintenance, aircraft storage, aircraft cleaning, catering, and ground transportation. Each of the FBOs has additional pilot and passenger amenities available in each of their terminal facilities.
To learn more about the importance of PDK to the local economy and its history, click here.